Scaling cultivated pork at pace: Meatable claims alt-pork can be developed in eight days
24 May 2023 --- Dutch food tech pioneer Meatable has reached an industry milestone in its history: its technology can now create cultivated pork products in just eight days. This is due to a “unique and superior differentiation process” that can scale at pace with lower costs. The company aims for its cultivated meat products to reach the mass market with a retail launch in 2025.
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Krijn de Nood, CEO and co-founder at Meatable, explains why the company is explicitly focused on pork.
“Pork is the most consumed meat globally and our technique easily applies to pork. We can launch in almost any market if we focus on this product. In particular, minced pork meat can be used for many different products and meals, which provides us with options about what to make,” he says.
“When we were thinking about the type of products people are most familiar with and would be excited about trying a cultivated version of, sausages were the answer.”
Meatable currently focuses on pork products, such as sausages, dumplings, pulled pork and pork belly. However, the company’s technology can be used to create beef, which it has started developing, as well as chicken products. “We’re continuing to develop cultivated meat products, including whole cuts to satisfy the world’s appetite for meat without harm,” adds de Nood.
A revolutionary process
Traditionally, it has taken farmers around eight months to rear a pig for pork. Over the past year, Meatable has been working to improve the efficiency of its process while also increasing the amount and quality of its fat and muscle tissue.
As a result, Meatable can now create high-quality cultivated meat with the right level of fiber formation, protein, fat accumulation, and key meat flavors in only eight days, a significant reduction in the process, which previously would take three weeks.
Together, these components translate into products with the familiar bite, texture and taste that makes them indistinguishable from traditional meat.
“Last year, our process was around three weeks, so it has taken us about a year to reach the eight-day mark. We know that the speed of our innovation continues to improve, so this gives us much confidence about the future,” underscores de Nood.
To create its cultivated meat, Meatable isolates a single animal cell and replicates its natural growth process using opti-ox technology in combination with pluripotent stem cells (PSCs). PSCs can multiply indefinitely without alteration, giving them an advantage over immortalized cell lines which are more commonly found in the cultivated meat industry.
Still, changing stem cells into more specialized cells, such as muscle cells, can be challenging. Yet, opti-ox technology makes it possible to overcome this, so Meatable can produce real muscle and fat cells that are fully differentiated in just a few days.
According to de Nood, many steps were involved in reaching this breakthrough. “The opti-ox technology makes it possible to produce real muscle and fat cells. One key point is our specific transcription factors, enabling us to accelerate our differentiation process.”
Meatable has kept to the highest standards even in this short time frame. “We have been investing time and research into creating the most efficient process for cultivated meat, all without compromising on taste, texture and quality,” continues de Nood.
This is also complemented by Meatable’s continuous perfusion process, which enables the company to work in a constant cycle and generates cell densities of about 80 million cells per milliliter, contributing to superior productivity. Hence, the process is easy to scale.
Is now the time for cultivated meat?
Meatable’s patented process results in cultivated meat of the highest quality. The characteristic meat flavor comes from a mixture of compounds, including thiazoles and thiophenes, formed through complex chemical reactions between sugars, proteins, fats and enzymes.
Only with cultivated animal cells, which are molecularly indistinguishable from traditional muscle and fat cells, can Meatable achieve the taste, texture and nutritional value identical to conventional meat.
Notably, de Nood argues that public awareness surrounding cultivated meat and the impact of food production on the environment “has never been more pronounced.”
“In 2021, a study commissioned by cellular agriculture company Aleph Foods showed that 84% to 85% of Millennials, 76% to 77% of Gen X, and 70% to 74% of Boomers are open to trying slaughter-free meat,” he outlines. “These numbers are growing every day. But education is essential to help people understand cultivated meat and its potential to transform the meat industry and the world.”
Due to its process, Meatable can produce cultivated meat at a competitive price and in the future, de Nood says it aims to reach even price parity with traditional meat.
“Our process is the fastest in the field and is of the highest quality. The speed element is crucial to reach cost parity because this drives down the costs. Therefore we are continuously trying to improve our process: increase our cell densities even more, achieve a higher doubling rate and increase our differentiation productivity to make the highest-quality, affordable cultivated meat possible.”
“To achieve our vision of providing slaughter-free meat, we must be price competitive. If we can’t achieve this, it will remain something that only wealthy people can afford, making it incredibly difficult to encourage consumers to embrace cultivated meat in their diets,” adds de Nood.
“With our recent achievements, we have created a production process that does exactly that: cell densities of 80 million per milliliter, a continuous production process, and a differentiation time of only a few days. That combination enables us to create affordable cultivated meat at scale. I’m excited to get our products regulated and ready for consumers to try next year to satisfy the world’s appetite for meat.”
By Elizabeth Green
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